Disadvantages of Closed Adoptions

Closed adoption refers to an adoption process where there is no interaction between the birthmother and the prospective adoptive families. There is no identifying information provided to either the birth families or the adoptive families. Non-identifying information such as physical characteristics and medical history may be provided to both parties. When considering a closed adoption, there are a number of disadvantages that need to be thought through carefully for all parties involved.

Closed Adoption: Disadvantages for Birth Parents

The closed adoption experience is different for each person; however, here is a list of potential disadvantages that you may encounter with a closed adoption:

Dealing with grief – Some birthmothers and birth families report that having a closed adoption makes the grieving process more difficult because there is a lack of information on the child’s well-being.

Dealing with denial – Placing a child through a closed adoption may lead you to deny that the child was born and placed for adoption.

Dealing with guilt – Since there is no opportunity to communicate with the child about why you placed him or her for adoption, it may be easier for feelings of guilt to develop.

Dealing with abandonment – Some birthmothers report that they feel like they are abandoning their baby. Without the ability to communicate with the child, you may be more vulnerable to experience this type of emotion.

Dealing with lack of information – An absence of information about the child’s well-being combined with denial or guilt may make you more susceptible to depression.

Closed Adoption: Disadvantages for Adoptive Family

The closed adoption experience is different for every family; however, here is a list of potential disadvantages that you may encounter with a closed adoption:

Increased denial – The closed adoption may encourage the family to have a sense of denial on “adopted family” or “fertility” status.

Increased fear – Adoptive families commonly fear that the birthmother will change her mind and want the baby back. Fear commonly increases for adoptive families without the communication with the birth families and knowledge of their true intentions

Limited medical history – Although a medical history is provided prior to the adoption, there is no means for acquiring additional information if something medically changes or develops for the child.

Less control– In a closed adoption you have less control as you are relying on the agency to communicate on your behalf with the potential birthmother.

Closed Adoption: Disadvantages for the Adopted Child

The closed adoption experience is different for every child; however, here is a list of potential disadvantages that an adopted child may encounter with a closed adoption:

Identify confusion – There is a chance that a teenage child may struggle more with identity because of the absence of communication with the birth families.

Preoccupation with adoption issues – A child in a closed adoption may be slightly more prone to experience a preoccupation with adoption issues.

Limited information – Whether it is medical histories, family genealogies or family histories, a child of a closed adoption has limited access to information on things that most people take for granted. This lack of information leaves the child with many unanswered questions.

The closed adoption is experienced differently in each adoption. The most important thing for all parties involved in the adoption process is communication. The more communication about wishes, desires, expectations, etc., the more comfortable each party will be in the adoption process. In a closed adoption, this communication takes place through the adoption agency or adoption attorney.


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